The RoBe year ended on a relatively relaxed note – for the first time, we had a break for over a month. (Okay – “break” is an extremely elastic term in this EMBA: we should all be brooding over our final thesis and preparing the next new modules at the same time. BUT: We had our last lecture at the beginning of December and won’t start again until next week). In any case, there was time to pause and reflect on the intense year. Exactly one year ago, I had decided to embark on this learning journey, was nervous about what to expect and hoped that the EMBA would not push my energy reserves to the limit. So now I am sitting under the “RoBe” Christmas tree and I am allowed to unwrap presents…
The first gift, dark blue and square, lay large and heavy in my hand. It was filled to the brim with numbers and finance: Balance sheets and accounting records, formulas and equations tumbled out. Yes, I had done more math than I had for a long time this year. At times I felt stupid in the world of finance, share prices and revenues, mergers and acquisitions, I struggled with valuation and financial policy. The great value of this gift gradually became apparent to me: My discomfort with budget discussions in business dwindled. I asked the “right” questions and I gained confidence in backing up my work with figures.
The second gift was handy and wrapped in practical brown wrapping paper. What I unwrapped was “practical relevance”. Each of the modules left a lasting mark on my working life because there was always a direct link to the actual work environment. My fear of not finding a place with my topics from the NGO world was unfounded. The module’s content gained depth because I had to implement it: Valuation was not only about evaluating companies I didn’t know, but also about evaluating my own projects (in my example, specifically one of my current favorite projects at the Cancer League: the peer platform). In Supply Chain Management, the focus was not exclusively on processes from industrial industry, but also on process optimization and lean management in every area of work (highly relevant at the Swiss Cancer League right now, as we are in the process of transitioning internally to a role-based organization). In the Business Analytics exam case, I asked myself how the cantonal colorectal cancer screening programs could achieve higher participation rates with the help of prediction models.
The third gift was light as a feather, glittery and colorful. It contained interaction and a network of relationships. As I mentioned in my May blog , our class brings together a wide variety of people with a broad range of experience and professional backgrounds. This heterogeneity is not just a nice-to-have for small talk during breaks. No, we are encouraged to learn how to work in different group compositions. Group assignments are an important pillar of the learning journey in every module. It is therefore crucial to find time to work together on tasks and projects in all-round busy agendas. And it is also important to build bridges between very different mindsets, goals and working styles. The best training material for our management jobs. And the reward is a broad network of relationships and friendships that will outlast this EMBA.
There are more colorful presents under the tree that I will open soon. They bear labels such as “Corporate Strategy”, “Leadership and Organization” or “Sales and Distribution Management” (the upcoming modules). One richly filled and large package is called “Technology, Innovation, Disruption & Entrepreneurship” – a final thesis disguised as a business plan that will contain all our experiences from the EMBA.
A dazzling package, to be opened in April, bears the name “Asia Experience”…
I look forward to each of these gifts and am grateful for the ones I have already been able to unwrap. Happy New Year RoBe!